Sunday, January 20, 2019


Mrs Titilayo Abubakar, the wife of the presidential flag bearer of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was left shaken but unhurt when thugs who are allegedly loyal to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) attacked her convoy at Sarkin Sasa house, in Ojoo, a sprawling suburb of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, while canvassing votes for her husband.

Emerging reports show that the attack on her happened following a successful meeting with the Sarkin Sasa and the general Hausa community in the area when the hoodlums pounced on her convoy and unleashed mayhem causing varying degree of bodily harm and injuries to supporters loyal to the PDP.


The gubernatorial candidate of the PDP in Oyo State, Mr Seyi Makinde, has since condemned the attack as uncalled for even as he accused the APC of orchestrating it.

In a statement by his Director of Media, Dotun Oyelade, Makinde described the attack as a very unfortunate incident, where those who wanted to play clean and competitive politics, were confronted by those who wanted to hold on to power by crook and by force, and send their enforcers to attack and intimidate. According to the Governorship Candidate, with the way the APC is conducting itself, the next election may be rougher, if things do not go their way, and that is looking pretty likely.


The Oyo State Police Command has however  come out to say that Atiku’s wife was not attacked. In a statement by its Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Adekunle Ajisebutu, the Command said: “She was not attacked. It was one of the area boys begging for money, but was not given, that threw a stone. The stone hit the side glass of a car belonging to a Fulani Chief, who was driving behind her convoy. The Chief had come to join Sarkin Sasa to receive the visitor, who after her visit left successfully unhurt.”

For many citizens, Nigeria’s 2019 elections will not be a sit-and-watch event. In 2015, Nigerians voted to defeat a sitting president—for the first time in the country’s history—in order to better their fortunes. But, they have been disappointed by the government’s inability to fulfill many of its promises. Thus, many Nigerians view participation in this election as essential to hold the government accountable— the rush to collect permanent voter cards is a demonstration of the intention to participate. The rise of intra-party friction—particularly within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)—has shown the desperation of the political class and the parties to retain power, as many politicians believe winning the party primary is an automatic ticket to victory in the general elections.


In a recent interview, Aly Verjee, a political analyst said this about violence during the Nigerian General elections, “While many of the risk factors that have affected past elections are unchanged, the relative significance of these factors varies across the country. For example, in Adamawa state in northeast Nigeria, there remain concerns about the potential for Boko Haram militants to disrupt the election campaign and voting. But because the militants appear to be less capable in Adamawa than before, the improved security situation in the state might allow more open competition between political parties. Perhaps paradoxically, therefore, one form of political violence—extremist attacks—may be partially  replaced by another—inter-party violence.

“Across Nigeria, people told us that they expect the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) to deliver a credible election, given the commission was able to do so in 2015. Any regression from the standard set in 2015 could lead to violence, if people believe that any electoral deficiencies are deliberate rather than unintended.


“While there are multiple, long-standing forms of violence in Nigeria, it is new that people interpret these conflicts as having national scope and ambition when previously they might have been conceived of as “local” issues. So, clashes between farmers and herders, for example, appear to be part of a broader national narrative, and, therefore, even attempting to resort to local mechanisms of conflict resolution seems pointless. The expectations of citizens for who is responsible for initiating, propagating, and resolving conflicts has changed.

Social media is clearly more important now than it was in 2015, particularly in Nigeria’s cities. Social media has democratized access to information in Nigeria. It allows news of events in distant states to reach other parts of the country more quickly  than conventional media. But sometimes it has also helped fuel rumors, which risks opening the door to intolerant responses. In 2019, it is expected that the most competitive presidential candidates will hail exclusively from northern Nigeria, unlike 2015, which saw a Christian from southern Nigeria face a northern Muslim. This may change the prospects for inter-communal tensions across the country, as appeals to claims of identity may be less persuasive in the presidential election.


“At least so far, internal political party disputes appear to be more significant now than in 2015. While intra-party conflict is not new in Nigeria, this trend may represent a reversion to pre-2015 norms. The APC may fragment or see continued defections to other parties, and that may increase the risk of violence well before Election Day.”

Hopefully, the talk of bloodshed will be no more than just talk.

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